Thursday, 21 October 2010

Arches National Park, Utah

I had intended to see Arches National Park at the end of the previous day, but I am learning that each of these major parks in southern Utah need, as a minimum, about half a day each to visit and take photos. You could easily take 3 or 4 days in each, but my time is limited.

I felt there was just not enough time on the previous day, so I set out on the morning of day 117 to see what was in this park. Like all of the National Parks in northern Arizona and southern Utah, it was truly impressive. Geologically speaking, these areas are fascinating with some of the most spectacular rocks formations I have witnessed anywhere in the world.

Almost as soon as you enter the park, things start to get interesting. This is part of what is called “Park Avenue”, presumably named after Park Avenue in Manhattan, New York....


















These rocks are known as the “Courthouse Towers”....



















Of course, I needed to get a picture of the Leading Ladies somewhere....



























There are some bizarre structures here. It is difficult to imagine how this was formed, but I would guess water eroded almost all of the rock in this area but left this column alone....


















This is perhaps the most odd rock in the park. For obvious reasons it is called Balanced Rock. I estimate it is 60 feet tall and 20 feet wide. It will of course eventually fall due to the erosion of the pedestal rocks supporting it. I walked right around it, pleading with the rock gods that it didn’t collapse at that very moment....



























Very occasionally, I have met someone I find truly inspirational. I did on this day. I saw a woman hobbling along a path in the Arches National Park and I couldn’t help but noticed that seemed to be really struggling walking on her crutches with a broken leg. I wandered around for a while taking pictures and when I walked back along the path she was sitting down and resting. I asked her how she broke her leg. “ A rock fell on me when I was mountaineering” was the answer. Okay, I had to find out more so I joined her and the guy with her and listened to her story.

She told me her name is Teresa and she has enjoyed mountaineering for a long time. “Well, I prefer to call it peak-bagging”. I am not sure if I have remembered this next part correctly: “I am the first woman to have climbed all of the 1,000 peaks in Colorado over 10,000 feet”. I was amazed. Teresa told me that had taken 10 or 11 years and later I did the calculation. That is 100 a year or two a week!

But, her climbing was on hold at the moment because of her leg which was badly broken 10 weeks ago. She was coming down a mountain in Wyoming and walked around a large rock and pushed it to make sure it would not move when she walked in front of it. As she passed the front she used the rock to steady herself and it suddenly fell. “I jumped quick enough to save my head and back, but it got my leg” Teresa added. She had to stay on the mountain overnight (I think she said it was snowing) after others bought a tent up for her. They splinted her leg with her ice-axes and in the morning Teresa had to bum-scoot down the hill a way to a place where a helicopter could rescue her.

She told me the rock was reckoned to weigh 1,000 pounds.

That was ten weeks ago and just two days ago the plaster cast was removed. She told me she was worried about the rest of her “mountaineering muscles” wasting away while she laid in a bed for 10 weeks, so she was determined to start getting exercise as quickly as possible to regain her fitness. “Walking with these crutches is difficult on rough ground as one small stone can cause you to slip”. She did however relate it to mountaineering when she said “But that is just like being very careful where you put your feet when climbing”. This is Teresa walking with her crutches....



























Yes, I think that is some climbing equipment being used to support the weight of her leg from her shoulders! I wish Teresa a speedy recovery and hope that she is soon able to bag a few more peaks! As I walked away, I promised myself to do more exercise when I get back home. If Teresa can climb two peaks a week, then I should be able to walk our dog even further each day!

There was obviously going to be a climbing theme to this part of my day because as I walked at the next place I stopped and parked the bike at, I spotted a climber on this rock. If you look carefully, you can just make him out....


























He was climbing the rock using the crack as his route up....


























A short while later as I rode away, I turned and looked back at the same rock which from where I was, now had the sun behind it. I could just see the climber standing on the top of the rock....


























Some of the rock formations are in very strange shapes....







































These are the North Window and South Window arches....



















Very close by is the Turret Arch. I have included here a photo which has people in, so you can see the scale of this arch....


























This is an area known as the Fiery Furnace, named for the warm glow seen on the rocks in the late afternoon. I was there too early to see that....







































The Leading Ladies in front of a cluster of vertical standing rocks....


























These fin type rocks were near the Devils Garden area....



















Finally, this is Skyline Arch....


























Overall, I think I did about 50 miles riding inside the park. It is a big place!

After leaving the park I had a decision to make. Do I travel north on US 191 before then travelling west, or do I take the much slower, but probably more interesting Utah SR 128. I chose the slower road and am I pleased I did. I have seen many impressive roads on this trip and this is certainly one of them. It mainly hugs and runs alongside the Colorado River and the views as you ride along at about river level, are stunning. The road and river are in one long canyon and I spent a lot of time looking up, forwards and sometimes backwards at the canyon walls. If you are in this area of Utah, DO NOT miss this wonderful road. Here are some of the views....
















































































6 comments:

motoroz said...

Arches is the only Utah NP I have visited. It is awesome. Glad you got to see it.

bobskoot said...

Gary:

You are right about the time factor. We only stayed in Moab for two nights and only scratched the surface. There is so much to see. We took the short hike to Delicate Arch, which is one of the most famous. we stayed to long in Arches and had to breeze through Canyonlands. Your photos bring back good memories

bob
Wet Coast Scootin

cpa3485 said...

You are right about Teresa being an inspiration. I should walk my dogs a little further tonight as well.
Great pictures!

Jim

Geoff James said...

Simply incredible Gary. I'd love to visit the area. So many places to see, so little time....

bluekat said...

Stunning photography. I saw the post last night for Arches and knew I was in for a treat. Teresa's story, and the other rock climber just add that much more to the post. Great read.

Arches and Brice Canyon are the two places that initially got me interested in this area. I'm really getting jazzed to pay a visit. Judging from your post and some of the comments, I'd better plan for a few days in each park.

Gary France said...

Oz – I agree, it is stunning.

Bob – I wished I had gone to Delicate Arch, but I ran out of time. I am glad I bought back some memories.

Jim – I hope you enjoyed the longer walk!

Geoff – You hit the nail on the head, so little time.

bluekat – To walk the trails and maybe do some bike riding in each park, I think you would need probably two days at each. Plus, there are so many other places to go see nearby.